How High Should Andre Johnson Be Drafted?

Andre Johnson is a consensus first round selection, and with good reason.  The numbers he puts up as a wide receiver are impressive, to say the least.

He led the league in yards in 2009 by a healthy margin. While he had 1,569 yards, the second best total was Wes Welker’s 1,348.  In fact, it was his second consecutive 1,500+ yard campaign (he had 1,575 in ’08).

He had 9 TD in ’09, his third straight year of eight or more.  While 9 TDs is his career high, there’s good reason to believe that he can reach double-digits for the first time in his career.

Not to mention, he’s had 100+ catches in three of the past four years (he had 60 catches in just nine games in 2007) for those in PPR leagues.

Oh yeah, he also never fumbles, having just one fumble per year every season since 2004.

He is the best of the best, that’s not what is in question…  The real issue is, just where does he fit into the first round?

The top four players are virtually set in stone.  Yes, the order may vary, but you’re not likely to select Johnson over any of these players, no matter what the format:

  • Chris Johnson
  • Adrian Peterson
  • Maurice Jones-Drew
  • Ray Rice

After that, let the debate begin.

Frank Gore has a ton of talent, with four straight years of over 1,000 yards, but fantasy owners look at his nearly 1,700 yard 2006 campaign and wonder what could be.  He’s now three years removed from that, so type of production shouldn’t be expected.

However, he is a great receiver out of the backfield, with 50 or more receptions in three of the past four years.  When you total is rushing and receiving yards, the two are quite equal.  TDs have always been close, before 2010 (Gore rushed for 10 TDs and caught 3 more).  In a PPR league I could see selecting Johnson before him but in non-PPR leagues, I’d go Gore.

Michael Turner has not been a starting back for long, but in his first season he rushed for 1,699 yards and 17 TD.  Last season injuries limited him to 11 games and he rushed for 871 yards and 10 TD.  Even if he had been healthy, the yards would have been drastically down.

He also is of no value in the passing game, never having more then six receptions in any season.  In a PPR league, Johnson is a no-brainer.  Even in a non-PPR league, it is easy to imagine Johnson outperforming Turner.  It’s impossible to predict someone scoring 15+ TDs in a season, meaning Johnson will likely out gain Turner in yards with the TDs being close.

Steven Jackson is the focus of the Rams offense, rushing for over 1,000 yards each of the past five seasons.  He also is a factor in the passing game, with 51 catches for 322 yards in ’09.

His problem is TDs.  Since rushing for 13 TDs in 2006, he has 16 total over the next three seasons.  Over that same span he has just two receiving TDs.  Unless Sam Bradford can do something special, defenses are going to continue focusing on Jackson and there’s no guarantee the TDs are going to come.

The bottom line is that Johnson, the elite WR, seems to make sense at sixth for me.  If I’m picking from that point on and he’s on the board, he’s going to be my pick.

What about you?  When would you pick Johnson?  Which RBs would you draft before him?

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2 comments

  1. kevin baker says:

    You don’t draft based on the numbers alone. The tob 5 QBS should outscore any RB, but you don’t see Aaron Rodgers going first overall.

    You draft based on the numbers and based on what the next best alternative is. After Gore and Turner, the next best RB is a large drop. After AJ, you still have quite a few elite WRs. Moss and Fitzgerald, well at least Moss, are in the AJ tier, and BMarsh, DJax, Austin, and Megatron aren’t far behind.

    You definitely pick Gore and Turner before AJ. If you believe SJax can get the TDs this year, you pick SJax before AJ. Then you maybe consider AJ 7th or 8th, but you also need to factor in top tier QBs, so AJ should go anywhere from 7 to 10 overall.

  2. bob says:

    Kevin Baker is correct that the dropoff is more important than the total points. However, I’d still take AJ at or around 5 because of reliability. After the top 4 RBs, I just see downside is there.

    Frank Gore’s carries have slowly dropped each year for 5 years. I don’t think you can count on more than 200-220 from him this year. If they increase carries on the ground this year, it will be Coffee or Dixon picking up the slack. If one of those guys gets in a rhythm it could be a 50/50 split.

    Same thing with Turner. After last year, they are going to want to protect his health. Less carries.

    If you draft Stephen “I’m already an injury risk and this year I had back surgery in the offseason” Jackson in the first round, I hope you do well in the rest of the draft. Seriously, back surgery?

    This year there just aren’t any slam dunks outside of the top 4. Also, if you play PPR, get your stud high target receiver and grab a guy like Forte. Even though he sucked last year, those ~50 catch RBs are serviceable in PPR leagues. Compare Addai to Mendenhall with PPR. 800 yards and 50 catches looks outstanding next to 1100 yards.

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